Very shy 3.5 year old- to start school or wait? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 02-15-2014, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 3.5 and is super shy. He's always been this way (DH and I are both pretty introverted, so it's not a big surprise) but lately it's gotten more extreme. If we're at the park, DS wants to leave as soon as another kid gets anywhere near him. He's begun making "monster faces" (rolling back his eyes and baring his teeth) at strangers (kids and adults) if they try to say hi or engage him in conversation. I know this is a defense mechanism to hide his shyness, but honestly it's pretty scary!

We were hoping to put DS in a preschool program a few days a week, but he's really resistant to the idea. He says things like "I'll be mean to the other kids" or "I'll hit my teacher if you make me go." DS is never physically violent with us, so I'm not worried that he'll actually do these things-- again, just a defense mechanism. But I am worried that he'll flip out if we try to take him to school and I don't want this to be a traumatic experience for him. There isn't a huge need to put DS in school, since I work from home, but we have a new baby due in June, and I'd like DS to be around kids his age.

I don't want to push DS into this, but I'm worried that his shyness is just getting more extreme the longer he stays home with me.
Ideas? Insights?

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#2 of 9 Old 02-16-2014, 03:44 PM
 
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Is it possible to stay with him a couple of days at the preschool and then throw out the idea of him being there alone on some days?
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#3 of 9 Old 02-17-2014, 07:49 AM
 
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Here are my thoughts on what did and didn't work for me as a shy child:

http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org/2008/02/01/breaking-the-shell-of-shyness/

 

Shyness is not the same thing as introversion.  Shyness is a fear of what others will think of you or how they will treat you.  Introversion is a desire to be alone a lot of the time and feeling that being alone gives you energy while being around people is draining.  Of course one of the reasons you might find people draining is shyness--their presence makes you feel more self-conscious, which wears on you--so the two traits can interact, but they are not the same.  I'm a shy extravert myself: I love being around people once I have established that at least one of the people likes me; being lonely is draining for me.

 

I had a SAHM and went to preschool starting with two half-days a week when I was 3.  I loved the school structure and the things to do there, even as I felt afraid of the other kids looking at me.  I became more comfortable as I got to know the kids, found common interests with some of them, saw that they were mostly harmless.  It was also very helpful that I already knew one of the teachers because she lived nearby, and the other teacher made a point of connecting with me one-on-one when I first visited the school, so I came in there feeling that the grown-ups were safe while I was among these strange kids, and I must have spent a lot of time at first sticking near the teachers and talking with them.  (I don't remember so well what happened when I was 3, but I know I often used this approach later.  For instance, I found elementary school recess overwhelming, so I would go chat with the playground aide; even if that particular aide was not really into being my pal, I knew that staying near the aide would mean no kids could get away with doing anything scary to me unobserved.)  So if you can help your son connect with the teachers in advance, that may be very helpful in setting up the feeling that school is a positive experience.

 

Staying with him for a while at first is a good idea, but I wouldn't start off that way and then "throw out the idea of him being there alone on some days"--that's like a bait-and-switch, unlikely to work out well.  Instead, I would explain that preschool is normally something kids do without their parents, but that you could stay with him at first if he would like that; then set out a plan, like you will stay the whole time the first day, leave after snack the second day, stay 10 minutes the third day, something like that.  While you are there, model interest in the other kids and what they are doing, and step back while your son explores the toys/materials available--try not to let him make it a "Mama and I are exploring this place together" thing.  (My son is a little bit shy but really had some issues of wanting ME to do everything with him, so boundary setting was important when he started a new school.)

 

I'm a little concerned about the "monster faces" and would talk to the teachers about this.  Maybe they can encourage other kids to try making their own monster faces instead of being scared off.  If your son is familiar with the Sesame Street monsters, maybe some talk about friendly monsters and their feelings would be helpful.

 

Overall, I think it's better to start preschool now, a small amount of time per week, and gradually work up to more group experiences over the years, than to wait.


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#4 of 9 Old 02-17-2014, 08:00 AM
 
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I like EnviroBecca's idea of easing him into the program. Also part of it could be, if he's never been in a group care setting before, it sounds big and unfamiliar when you describe it. He might react differently when he is actually there. 

 

I wonder if less notice might actually be better? Get him into the car and then say offhand, oh, I thought we'd go check out that preschool and see what we think. And then just drop in and see how he feels about it, if he's interested in the different toys or what the class is doing, etc. Not letting him have a lot of time to get worked up about it ahead of time. 

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#5 of 9 Old 02-17-2014, 08:42 AM
 
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@erigeron I like your idea. Something like this would work for my son smile.gif
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#6 of 9 Old 02-17-2014, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the input and suggestions! Envirobecca- that article looks great- I'm going to read it tonight when I'm not on my phone. Thanks for clarifying the difference between shy and introvert- it made a lot of sense. I'm definitely introverted whereas I think DS and DH are both shy. They both thrive off being around people, once they're comfortable. It's just getting DS to the comfortable place that's tricky....

We've already talked to DS about school and made it clear that it's a place where kids stay without their parents. When we first brought it up (6 months ago) DS seemed excited, but since then, he's just been getting more resistant to the idea. I'm wondering if the baby coming has something to do with his clinginess lately-- he now refuses to stay with either of my parents, who have babysat him frequently ever since he was born.

I think I'll take DS by one of these days to check out the preschool we chose- and try not too have many expectations. smile.gif

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#7 of 9 Old 02-20-2014, 07:40 AM
 
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My daughter was shy and at age 3 i decided to put her in daycare. The plan was to have her go for 1/2 day a couple or 3 times a week. If she liked it of course more days and more time. I knew daycares that were flexibile. She thought, I think, that like the library program I would be staying with her ( on day 1 her dad had come along too so she had thought we were both going to be around) and was actually enjoying the place. When we saw her so relaxed we decided to leave. Of course when I went back she was v. distressed. She never wanted to go back. I removed her from there and tried a different one. On the first day she was trying to show me, I remember, that she was going to be fine but I could see the fear in her face. Every time I took her in she'd not want me to leave. I ended it because I really didn't want a cry-it out situation which it was. Much, much later, maybe 8 months or a yr later she said at the first place the teacher was mean (we did'n't get to see that side of her of course) to some kids, not her and at the 2nd place a teacher had been mean to her. I kept on relentlessly taking her to the library program, out all day in summer, meetup groups...  to help her see people and other kids. And finally, it paid off. It was like one fine day she waved to the librarian and that after that day she was changed. She is not at all shy, maybe just in the beginning and dh thinks that if she has any issues at all it's because she follows my cue (I'm an introvert.)


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#8 of 9 Old 02-20-2014, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Neera, it's good to know that your daughter overcame her shyness. I'm going to wait another month or two to go check out the preschool with DS (they won't have a spot for him until the summer anyway) and try to spend as much time around other kids as we can before that.

At the children's museum this morning, DS didn't want to play in any area where there were other kids. As soon as another child got close, DS would get visibly agitated and upset and move to a new activity. He literally climbed over a table because a little 2 year old had blocked his exit at the Lego table abd freaked out any time i was more than a few feet away. The experience made me reconsider pushing preschool right away.

We've been talking a lot with DS about how other kids are friendly and fun to play with, but DS won't hear it. He's comfortable around a few close friends (his age and older) so I know he's not antisocial- just much more shy than I realized. I'm trying to be more outgoing than usual to demonstrate to DS that new people are nothing to be afraid of, but I don't know if it's much help.

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#9 of 9 Old 02-21-2014, 06:59 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post



At the children's museum this morning, DS didn't want to play in any area where there were other kids. As soon as another child got close, DS would get visibly agitated and upset and move to a new activity. He literally climbed over a table because a little 2 year old had blocked his exit at the Lego table abd freaked out any time i was more than a few feet away.

 

I encountered situations like that too. Friendly or smaller in stature didn't seem to make  a big difference. But it wasn't like all the kids weren't liked. it took time but she did warm up to 3-4 kids at her library program. One time out of nowhere a boy (that I had never even seen bfor, must have been new) at the library program went up to her and hit her with the intention to hurt her. She was clinging to me as usual at the time. I was not at all happy because she never went near any kids so I knew she had not done anything to cause that. The teacher had not seen it happen but when she saw my face she asked and immediately asked the mom to leave the session. The same thing happened a couple of months later at a park and it was a child younger than her. Normally, I'd have ignored it or told dd that it was an accident but I told the kid to not do that. Since that incident she had a lot more confidence. I think she possibly was afraid that other kids would hurt her and those issues aren't something kids are imagining. I know it was real because I had witnessed it. To top that if the teachers are bullies themselves, the ones that they want to turn to protect them... I could see that I could've been setting up dd to have panic attacks. Good luck with your lo.


When the thoughts we think are the same as the words we speak, others will feel our integrity ~ Unknown
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